Designated Area Migration Agreements slated for Cairns, Orana, and Warrnambool

In a speech given last week on the strengths and challenges of Australia’s migration program, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs has revealed that Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) is nearing approval for certain regional areas where there are economic gaps that immigration can assist in filling. These areas including:

  • The Orana Region located in central northern New South Wales,

  • Cairns located in far north Queensland, and

  • Warrnambool located in western Victoria.

The minister states that he has sent officers from the Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) to meet with local representatives and expects to finalise “a number” of agreements in the coming months.

DAMAs are a type of overarching labour agreement that is negotiated between Home Affairs and relevant states and territories to assist with skill shortages that cannot be met by the Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa program. This involves an approved list of semi-skilled occupations and may include concessions for salary and English language ability.

While businesses can request access to a labour agreement directly with Home Affairs, a DAMA carries with it some distinct advantages. The primary one is that smaller businesses operating in these regions, who may be unlikely to be approved a company-specific labour agreement, can instead access a DAMA by being endorsed by the relevant state authority. They will, however, need to be lucky enough to have a vacancy in an approved occupation, and most likely will need to satisfy the authority that they have adequately tested the labour market, among other things that would be required for a TSS visa.

Once approved, they can then consider lodging a TSS nomination, and visa application.

Currently, there is only one approved DAMA, and this is for the Northern Territory, who, according to the Home Affairs’ website, has 59 approved businesses with access.

It will be interesting to see the differences between approved DAMAs, particularly the types of occupations these regions have difficulty filling, and the concessions offered, if any.